Who Will Initiate Probate: Probate is the court adjudicated process that an Executor or Administrator follows in the estate of someone who dies in Pennsylvania (PA). The Executor is a person or trust company named in a will. The Administrator is a person or trust company appointed by the Court where no will exists, Where there is a will that does not name an Executor or where the will names an Executor(s) who refuses or fails to act. Generally, the intestate beneficiaries or their appointees will have the first option to act as Administrator if one of the above circumstances were to arise.
What You Need To Start Probate: The basic requirements are the original will where one exists, original death certificate, Petition for Probate and Estate Information Sheet often prepared by the Attorney/Lawyer for the estate, check for probate fees paid to the Register of Wills, renunciations if necessary and witness affidavits if the will was not notarized.
Where Probate Takes Place: The Executor is appointed at the Register of Wills Office in the county in Pennsylvania where the decedent resided at death. Locally, one of the following courthouses would likely have jurisdiction: Chester County: West Chester, Montgomery County: Norristown, Delaware County: Media, Philadelphia County: Philadelphia, Bucks County: Doylestown, Berks County: Reading.
Once the Executor/Administrator Has Been Appointed: The remainder of the estate administration and probate requirements for PA will have to be followed. Among the requirements will be notice to the beneficiaries, periodic status reports to the court, gathering information for preparation and filing the PA inheritance tax return and federal estatate tax return (where necessary). Obviously each estate is different and the work necessary for completing the estate administration will vary from case to case. We will provide you with follow up postings about the probate process and ways to avoid potential problems and issues once you are appointed as the Executor/Administrator.